Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Cakespy artwork and a giveaway

I know that this isn't a recipe or a post about skating, but I just had to share. Plus I have a giveaway! You'll stick around for that, right?

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Jessie of Cakespy, but she has a wonderful blog and is an accomplished cookbook author. Jessie is also a talented baker and illustrator and creates some adorable drawings of desserts. In fact, I loved her creations so much that I commissioned her to design something for me. I wanted something that incorporated figure skating and desserts, and this is what she came up with:


Is that not the most adorable thing EVER? A slice of pie, a cupcake, a cookie, an ice cream cone and a chocolate truffle are all ice skating on a pond. Surrounded by a gumdrop wall. Talk about cuteness overload!

I'm still trying to decide where to put my wonderful artwork in the house to show it off. While I am doing that, Jessie has graciously given me a 10-pack of cards to an Eva Bakes reader! All you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Please be patient, as it can be slow to load sometimes. Good luck, and I hope you have a sweet day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I purchased the illustration from Cakespy and did not receive a discount. Cakespy did provide the giveaway at no additional cost to me.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Skating Fridays

Recap from Sectionals, Part 2 of 3: Highs and Lows from the Championship Event

I think I mentioned before that I skated in the Gold Ladies Championship Event at Sectionals. My goal was to place in the top 4 so I could qualify for the championship event at Adult Nationals.

Long story short: that did not happen. Not even close. In fact, I came in 2nd to last. I felt bad for the skater who came in last because it was her birthday.

Because there were 16 of us, they broke us up into 3 groups: groups of 5, 5 and 6.  I skated in the first group and was the 2nd skater to take the ice.

I felt really winded after my quick warmup. Even though there was 1 skater ahead of me, I still felt like I didn't have enough air. I was slightly nervous -- not for the performance, but because of my lack of air.

It was time to take the ice.

I put on a huge smile and tried to maintain my happy face throughout my program. The first spin went marvelously, and my first jump was perfect. My axel attempt was horrible. I two footed it, and then my following spin was not very good. The second axel attempt went as badly as the first, and then the impossible happened: I fell out of my strongest (and easiest) spin. I can do this spin in my sleep with my hands tied behind my back and in handcuffs. Somehow, I hit a rut on the ice and stopped. It was the horror of horrors, and I honestly don't know what happened.

Here is a screenshot of my protocols. I will break it down into highs and lows so you can understand what happened and how I was scored.



High: I received a Level 3 sit spin (element #1) and positive Grade of Execution (GOE). I earned 2.48 points on this spin, which is the highest element I've ever earned credit for!

Low: This spin was intended as a Level 2, and I intentionally did not want a Level 3 spin. I actually wanted a Level 2 spin because I believe I got credit for something that I did not want to earn credit for.

High: The Level 3 spin was a blessing in disguise because I was "saving" one of the difficult variations for my final spin, which I fell out of. Had I only received credit for a Level 2 spin, I probably would have wound up in last place.

Low: My axel attempt was underrotated and I only got 0.35 points. I can do this jump in my sleep.

High: My lutz attempt received full credit and 0 GOE. That means I got credit for a fully correct lutz! No edge calls!

Low: My camel-sit spin did not count because I didn't hit 2 full revolutions on my camel. This is the 2nd time it's happened in competition. Clearly I need to swap out the spin for another one.

High: I received positive GOE on my footwork sequence! This is a first for me, and I am super excited. My choreographer and I recently tweaked my footwork from January, and it looks like the newest version is a keeper.

Low: I received 0 points for my axel-half loop-salchow attempt. I two-footed the axel, so it got downgraded to a waltz jump. Not sure why the rest of the combo did not receive any value.

High: My PCS scores are up. This is a huge improvement for me!

Low: My final spin. Ugh.  Just ugh. I think I'll move this spin up to an earlier place in the program so I'm not dead tired at the end. I need the points.

High: I smiled the entire 2 minutes and 40 seconds of the program, and my teammates were pleased with that. They said that despite my errors, I skated really well. This is only the 4th competition I've ever entered, so I have a lot to be proud of.

Although this wasn't my best skate (not even close), I had fun and learned a lot. I am sorely disappointed with my performance, but still proud of how far I have come and the progress I have made since last year.

One thing that really made an impact to me was a comment that I received from a fellow Gold lady. She said (and I am paraphrasing here), "No matter how down you are on yourself, just remember this. There are lots of skaters who wish that they could skate like you. They are watching you and wanting to do what you can do."

I am humbled to think that there are others who might be inspired by me. This really encourages me to want to improve and become a better skater.

Despite my 2nd to last place showing, I am still proud of the big improvements I have made, and I hope to continue to progress.


Next week: recap from the Gold Ladies Dramatic event


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bakery style chocolate chip muffins

These thick and fluffy muffins will remind you of those from your favorite bakery. You'll want to eat the entire batch yourself!
It's muffin time (again)!

This muffin is brought to you by my almost 5-year old, who is constantly asking for chocolate or chocolate chip muffins.

I'm always tempted to buy muffins from bakeries because I love how huge and fluffy they are. But part of me is cheap and doesn't want to pay upwards of $3 for a muffin when I can make an entire batch for that price.

I opted to make these muffins slightly healthier by using applesauce as my liquid ingredient rather than oil. Nobody knew the difference, and that made me happy. These were one of the quickest muffin recipes to get eaten around the house, and Addie was extremely sad when I told her that we had eaten the last one.

Guess I'll need to look for another chocolate muffin recipe to bake next since I've got myself a little chocoholic in training.

Bakery style chocolate chip muffins
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside (I used a silicone muffin pan and did not grease it).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, applesauce, milk and vanilla until well combined.

Transfer the applesauce mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix it until a few flour streaks remain. Add in the chocolate chips and mix until everything just comes together - do not overmix.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pan, filling each well at least 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 5 minutes. Then turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days. Muffins can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: I got 17 muffins (original recipe claims 12)

Source: Slightly adapted from Little Sweet Baker

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Momofuku Milk Bar confetti cookies

Make Momofuku Milk Bar's famous confetti bar cookies at home! Each cookie contains birthday cake crumbs, which takes ordinary "funfetti" cookies to the next level. A longer creaming process also makes these a soft and fudgy cookie.

How soon is it to start thinking about what cake you want for your birthday? Two weeks? Two months? Apparently in the mind of a 4 year old, 2 months is appropriate. Addie turns 5 (!!!) in April, and she started brainstorming her birthday cake about 2 months in advance. Sprinkles have been a non-negotiable requirement for this girl, so I'm thinking about fun ways to incorporate them into her cake.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to bake a Funfetti cookie. Rather than use a cake mix or even a homemade version, I thought I'd turn to the expert this time - Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. She is the genius behind their best-selling "crack pie" and "cereal milk" creations. My brother bought me the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook a while ago and I have honestly been too intimidated to try any of the recipes until now.

The recipes look easy at first glance until you really start to read the ingredients. They usually call for one recipe of this, and another of that, and by the time you read what those sub-recipes are, you are committing to make several separate recipes that roll up into one. This cookie recipe, however, seemed manageable and not too difficult to try.



I made the birthday cake crumb the night before, and that only took about 5 minutes to prep. I threw everything into my stand mixer, baked for 20 minutes and allowed everything to cool overnight. The next morning, I started on the cookie dough and that wasn't too much different than any other cookie dough I've made. The dough does require at least 1 hour of refrigerator so make sure you take that into consideration before you start baking these.

Since the official recipe calls for some ingredients that the average cook/baker doesn't have (like glucose or grapeseed oil), I subbed them with some of the standard ingredients that Christina Tosi recommended.

These cookies were downright amazing. As pastry chef Christina Tosi promised, the exteriors of the cookies were nice and crispy, while the interiors were thick and almost fudge-like. The cake crumbs also added a fun, crunchy texture.

The recipe below makes 12-13 giant-sized cookies. Each was bigger than the palm of my hand and was at least 4 inches in diameter. Make sure you only put 6 cookies on a baking sheet or else they will run into each other.

Now to decide which one of Momofuku's recipes to try next...

Momofuku Milk Bar confetti cookies
Birthday cake crumb
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 Tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/3 cup cake flour (If you don't have cake flour, simply take 1 cup of all-purpose flour and replace 2 Tablespoons of it with cornstarch. Store the extra flour in your pantry for next time)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Cookies
  • 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
Directions
Make the birthday cake crumb:  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt and sprinkles on low speed until everything is well combined.

Add the oil and vanilla and continue to mix until everything is well mixed. The batter will start to clump up a bit - this is what you are looking for.

Stop the mixer and evenly spread the clumps out on your prepared cookie sheet. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes and occasionally break up the clusters. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool. The clumps will be slightly wet when baked but will harden as they cool. Set aside until you are ready to bake the cookies (alternatively, they can be stored in an airtight container and will keep for a week at room temperature or 1 month in the refrigerator or freezer).

Make the cookies:  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter, sugar and corn syrup together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and the vanilla and continue to mix on medium-high speed for another 7-8 minutes until the batter almost doubles in volume (Note: do not skimp on the mixing time for this. The extra mixing will yield a better cookie.).

Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour, milk powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and rainbow sprinkles and mix for 1 minutes or until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix. Add the birthday cake crumbs and mix for 30 more seconds.

Using an ice cream scoop or a 1/3-cup measure, portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (or line it with a silicone mat). Leave at least 4 inches in between each cookie since they will flatten and spread out. Roll the dough out into a ball and flatten the tops. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour (and up to 1 week) in the refrigerator. Do not bake your cookies at room temperature - it will not work!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the cookies for 18 minutes. They will spread, puff and crackle on top. The cookies should be very lightly browned on the edges and the centers will have just a hint of color.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the pans before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

Yield: About 12-13 large cookies

Source: Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi, pages 100-101

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Skating Fridays

Recap from Sectionals, Part 1 of 3: I am Yuzuru Hanyu


I am back from a fun-filled weekend at Sectionals. I drove with my training partner and best skating friend, K. There were a total of 3 ladies from my rink attending and competing, and it was fantastic having such a strong support group with me.

We arrived late on Thursday night and I had an unofficial practice on Friday around noon. There were about 20 total skaters on the ice, which made the practice very challenging. Since I jump and spin "the other way," I had to be extra careful on the ice to make sure I wasn't going to collide with someone. My session was filled with Gold and higher level skaters, so everyone was moving around very quickly.

At one point during my practice, I was setting up for my lutz jump. My entrance is the same as the majority of skaters: I do backwards crossovers, skate on my outside edge (on one foot), look behind me and jump if the coast is clear. In fact, Coach B has me looking behind me during the entire jump so I can make sure I am gliding on the correct edge.

This particular attempt was no different. I did my backwards crossovers, looked behind me for a good 5-10 seconds and skated on my backwards outside edge. I saw another skater about 5-10 feet from me and thought nothing of it. I wasn't even ready to attempt the jump when out of nowhere, this skaters plowed right into me... HARD. Both of us fell, and my left elbow and arm were throbbing with immense pain. Both of us got up and asked if the other was OK, and we went on our way.

I didn't anticipate that this skater would make such a sudden change in her pattern. I was watching her the entire time as I was setting up for my jump so I could make sure I didn't run into anybody. She was moving so quickly and didn't pay attention around her and literally skated right into me. Ironically, she jumps and spins "my way" so this was quite odd.

This collision really shook me up. I felt like Yuzuru Hanyu when he and Han Yan collided at the 2014 Cup of China:

I was like the guy on the left, laying on the ice
After the hard impact, I realized that my entire left elbow had become swollen, and that I was bleeding. My jumps and spins did not go well after that practice session, and my confidence was definitely gone.

I had another official practice on the day of the championship event, and that didn't go well either. The collision really made a negative impact on me for the entire day, as I did not skate well during my event. The same skater (who ran into me) had another near-collision with me during the official practice ice.

I'll recap my performance in the next post.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bakery style buttermilk blueberry muffins with crumb topping

Why pay good money for a bakery style muffin when you can make your own? These big and beautiful blueberry muffins will give your local bakery a run for their money!


Who's ready for more muffins? If you raised your hand, you have my husband to thank for this recipe. He and I both realized that my muffin stash had been depleting rapidly, so it was time to make another batch. When I asked him what kind I should make, he immediately said that he wanted blueberry ones.

Yes, I know that I have tons of blueberry muffin recipes on the blog, like this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one, but it was time for a change. I wanted a big, fabulous blueberry muffin like the kind you'd find in a bakery. Something substantial.

Enter these muffins.


The original recipe made six giant muffins, but since I don't own a jumbo muffin pan, I made 9 standard ones instead. My muffins were big and beautiful. I made them a tad bit healthier by substituting the canola oil for some homemade applesauce. Just pretend that the crumb topping wasn't there to cancel out the healthy part of the muffins, mmmkay?


My husband said that these were the best blueberry muffins to date, and he even compared them to the ones you'd buy at a specialty breakfast restaurant. Addie and I also loved them, so I think these will be added to our muffin rotation.

Bakery style buttermilk blueberry muffins with crumb topping
Muffins
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (I used 2% milk with a splash of white vinegar)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
Crumb topping
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons, or half a stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Directions
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a muffin pan and set it aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, measure out the 1/3 cup of applesauce. Add the egg and vanilla. Then add enough buttermilk until the contents reach 1 cup (you'll need about 1/3 cup of buttermilk). Mix everything together very well.

Add the applesauce mixture into your large bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir until everything is almost completely mixed together. Slowly fold in the blueberries and do not overmix the batter. Evenly transfer the batter into your prepared muffin pan.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a fork or use your hands until the mixture resembles wet sand. (Note: I tried cutting the butter in with a fork, but the mixture didn't come together. Once I rolled up my sleeves and used my hands, everything came together very quickly and easily.)

Generously top each muffin well with the crumb mixture.

Bake in your preheated oven for 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine baked for 25 minutes).  Allow muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: Recipe claims it will make 12 muffins, but I only got 9

Source: Barely adapted from Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy; originally adapted from Allrecipes.com

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mint cookies and cream blondies

Take blondies to the next level by adding mint sandwich cookies and peppermint extract. 
These would be perfect for a St. Patrick's Day party!


It's been a while since I made bar desserts. I've been so focused on homemade ice cream (and muffins, naturally) that my square baking pan has been ignored.

This is one of those super easy, festive desserts that you can customize to your liking. I used mint chocolate sandwich cookies for mine because that is what I had in the pantry. You can different types of flavored sandwich cookies depending on your tastes.

I took these to the rink one afternoon and they were a huge hit. One of the ice dance coaches (whom I don't work with) had one and promptly asked when I wanted to start taking lessons with him. He said he'd be willing to trade lessons for desserts. Hmm, I may take him up on that offer once my body starts to give out on freestyle.

Mint cookies and cream blondies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup mint sandwich cookies, chopped and divided
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and line an 8"x8" pan with two sheets of parchment paper (criss-cross them), leaving overhangs on both sides so you can easily lift the bars out once baked. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the egg, vanilla and mint extracts and beat until well incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is just incorporated. Turn the mixer off.

Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in about 3/4 cup of the chopped sandwich cookies and the white chocolate chips by hand.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and press the batter down so it is even. Add the remaining chopped cookies and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting and serving. To cut, simply lift the parchment paper from the pan, transfer to a flat surface and slice.

Bars should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days, if they even last that long.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 bars

Source: Barely adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Indiana sweet cream pie for Pie Day

While you're waiting for fresh fruit to come back into season, bake a traditional Indiana sweet cream pie instead. Filled with a sweet and creamy cinnamon flavored custard, this pie is sure to become a new favorite in your house!

Have you heard about Pi Day? Pi, as many of you may remember from math class, is approximately 3.14 (or 22/7, if you want to get more specific). Math fans like March 14 because it's 3/14, or Pi Day. Foodies and bakers took this to the next level and decided to call this day Pie Day as well. Because you know, homonyms.

I finally decided to make a pie for Pie/Pi Day this year. Rather than bake a fruit or chocolate pie, I decided to try something that I'd only heard good things about but have never tried - Indiana sweet cream pie. It is supposed to be this wonderfully smooth and creamy custard dessert. In my mind, it sounded like creme brulee in pie form (but without the crunchy top).

In reality, this pie was smooth and creamy, just as I imagined. The addition of cinnamon and nutmeg made my house smell like apple pie, just without the apples. The crust was nothing short of amazing, since it was an all-butter crust that was perfectly flaky.

When I get the opportunity to visit Indiana, I will have to try a local version of this pie and see how this version stacks up!

Happy Pie/Pi Day!

Indiana sweet cream pie
Crust
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons (1 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water
Filling
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt about 2 or 3 times. Add in the sliced butter and pulse until crumbly. Then add the 3 Tablespoons of water and pulse in quick bursts until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Take the dough out of the food processor and knead on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before using.

Once the crust has chilled, take it out of the refrigerator and roll it out on a flattened surface with a rolling pin. Roll it out to about a 10" or 11" diameter. Transfer to a 9" or 10" pie plate and crimp the edges. Place the pie pan in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Slowly add in the heavy cream, half and half and vanilla. Mix until smooth. If your mixture is lumpy, you can strain it in the next step.

Pour the batter into your prepared pie crust (place a fine mesh sieve over the pie crust if your filling is a bit lumpy).

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the center is set.  Allow the pie to cool before serving.

Pie should be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for a few days.

Yield: One 9" pie; about 8 servings

Source: Serious Eats

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Skating Fridays

At the Competition


I am at the competition today and will not be skating until tomorrow. I have two events - the Championship Gold Ladies and the Gold Dramatic Ladies. Today I am cheering on some of my fellow skaters in their respective events, so I get to be a spectator and faux coach.

More than likely, I'll share some information (and maybe some pictures!) from my skates on the Eva Bakes Facebook page. I hope you'll follow me there for updates.

I'll come back next week during Skating Fridays to share more details.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bakery-style double chocolate chip muffins

Thick, fluffy chocolate chip muffins are perfect for breakfast or a mid-day snack. These perfectly domed muffins look and taste like they belong in a bakery. You won't want to share these!

My muffin baking obsession continues.

This time, I am bringing you these wonderful bakery-style double chocolate chip muffins. The idea came to me when I had some leftover buttermilk from another recipe. Rather than waste the buttermilk, I wanted to put it to good use. We've been having pancakes quite a bit lately so muffins were the next logical thing (at least in my mind).

What I have learned is that I can bribe my 4-year old with chocolate chip muffins. She has been dragging her feet in the mornings and just doesn't want to get out of bed. When I tell her that I have chocolate chip muffins ready for breakfast, she jumps out of bed and changes her clothes in record time.

My family adored these muffins. The day they were baked, they were soft, fluffy and almost cupcake-like. After a day or two, they started to dry out a bit. While I normally swap out oils and butter in my muffins, I didn't this time. When I make these again, I may try to substitute the butter and canola oil for Greek yogurt and/or applesauce. I find that Greek yogurt helps keeps the muffins more tender over a longer period of time.

This is still a pretty solid chocolate chip muffin recipe. If you'd like something a bit healthier, try my double chocolate Greek yogurt muffins.

Bakery-style double chocolate chip muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and /4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup canola oil 
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips and chunks
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Grease two standard muffin pans and set aside (I used my silicone baking pans and did not grease them).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then add the granulated sugar and mix well.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, oil, instant coffee and vanilla. Transfer the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix. The batter will be very thick.

Add the chocolate chips and chunks. Evenly distribute the batter into your baking pans and fill each muffin well almost all the way to the top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 3 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees F for an additional 12-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool before serving. Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 16 muffins

Source: Pretty.Simple.Sweet.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

No-bake chocolate salted caramel Oreo tart

This impressive tart requires no baking and will make your friends and family think you've spent all day in the kitchen. It's perfect for a dinner party or making for a special someone!


If you need a simple dessert to bring to a dinner party or just want to impress someone, listen up. This gorgeous chocolate salted caramel tart requires no baking. With only 5 ingredients, this tart is sure to be the talk of the night. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for the separate layers to set in the freezer.




No-bake chocolate salted caramel Oreo tart
  • ½ package (about 18) whole Oreos (filling and cookie included)
  • 12 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 6  ounces dark chocolate, chopped (you can substitute with dark chocolate chips)
Directions In a food processor or a blender, pulse the Oreos until they are finely crushed. Alternatively, you can put the cookies in a zip-top bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

In a medium sized bowl, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter. Add the crushed Oreos to the melted butter and mix well. Transfer the Oreo mixture to your tart pan. Press the crumb mixture all over the sides and bottom of your tart pan. Put the tart pan in the freezer for 10 minutes until set.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the remaining 8 Tablespoons of butter with the brown sugar until it starts to bubble. Whisk constantly for another 1-2 minutes. Turn off the stove and take the pan off the heat. Stir in 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside for about 15 minutes to cool. Pour the caramel mixture on top of the crust and put it back in the freezer for another 30 minutes until the caramel has set but is not frozen.

Finally, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream either in the microwave or over the stove in a saucepan. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Then whisk vigorously until the chocolate and cream are fully mixed. Pour the chocolate ganache on top of the caramel and return to the freezer for another 30 minutes or until the ganache has set but is not frozen.

Keep the tart stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It should keep for about a week.

Yield: 1 large tart (about 8-12 servings)

Source: Kylee Cooks

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Skating Fridays

My Snowplow Sam Skater


Addie has completed her first learn to skate session! She had a blast in class and really enjoyed learning from Miss N and Miss K. I am pleased to share that she has passed both Snowplow Sam 1 and Snowplow Sam 2. She starts Snowplow Sam 3 this week and will be learning how to glide on one foot and how to do some basic forward skating.

Miss K also let us borrow one of her old skating costumes, which her mom hand-made (!). This gorgeous pink dress has tons of beadwork that is perfect for a little girl who loves her sparkles. Addie has been asking to wear it every day and cannot wait to wear it to class this week.

Addie continues to enjoy figure skating, which makes me tickled pink (pun intended)!



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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Triple chocolate chunk copycat VitaTop Greek yogurt muffins

An easy, homemade version of VitaTop deep chocolate muffins. With no oil or butter, these Greek yogurt and applesauce based muffins are made in the food processor and are only 95 calories each!


I have a love-hate relationship with Whole Foods. I love that their foods are all-natural and I have a blast discovering new products in the store. What I don't love are their high prices. While their store brand items can be quite affordable, other products can cost a lot of money.

While I haven't personally bought VitaTop muffins from there before, I have heard that a 4-pack can cost $6 (or more). That's a pretty steep price for muffins. Rather than shell out the money to try these often-raved about breakfast treat, I set out to make my own.



These had to have been one of the easiest muffins I've ever made. You throw everything into a blender or food processor (minus the chocolate chips), bake, top with chocolate chips and you're done. You don't need to separately mix the dry ingredients or wet ingredients, so I loved the preparation of this recipe.

And what's best about this recipe is that each muffin is only 95 calories. Yes, 95 calories for an entire muffin! It uses wholesome ingredients like oats, egg whites and Greek yogurt and there is no butter or oil.

The resulting muffins are nothing short of amazing. These are chocolate-y, moist and have a bit of oatmeal texture to them. Addie happily proclaimed that she loved these muffins, and I have seen my husband sneak in his fair share of them. Next time make these, I may swap out the granulated sugar for brown sugar to get a more pronounced molasses flavor. Other than that, these were fantastic.

Triple chocolate chunk copycat VitaTop Greek yogurt muffins
  • 1 and 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's Dark)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (6 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani 0%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease 2 standard muffin pans and set aside. (I used a silicone muffin pan and did not grease it)

In a food processor or a high powered blender, blend everything together except the chocolate chips. The batter should be smooth and the oats should be nicely ground.

Transfer the batter into a large bowl and add half of the chocolate chips.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pans and bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes. Then take the muffin pans out of the oven (be sure to leave the oven on). Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the remaining chocolate chips and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool completely before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 17 standard sized muffins

Source: Dashing Dish

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jeni's lemon buttermilk tart frozen yogurt

Light and refreshing, this copycat of Jeni's lemon buttermilk tart frozen yogurt is sure to please all lemon fans. Infused with lemon syrup, the buttermilk frozen yogurt is swirled with fresh lemon curd and crunchy shortbread crust. It's like a lemon tart in frozen yogurt form!
Boy, do I love a challenge.

My former manager, N, is a huge fan of lemon. She and her husband have a monthly subscription to Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. One of the flavors that they received this month was a lemon buttermilk tart frozen yogurt. N asked me if I could recreate it.



I looked everywhere online, and because this is a brand new seasonal flavor, there wasn't a recipe readily available. I asked friends who owned Jeni's cookbook to see if there was a recipe for lemon frozen yogurt or any type of buttermilk frozen yogurt. My friends said that there was a lemon frozen yogurt recipe in Jeni's cookbook but it wasn't for the buttermilk frozen yogurt. Bummer.

I eventually decided to create my own version of Jeni's lemon buttermilk tart frozen yogurt. I adapted a buttermilk frozen yogurt recipe I found online and then used Jeni's recipes for lemon syrup and lemon curd. When N said that the frozen concoction also contained sweet shortbread crusts, I found a recipe for that too.

The resulting frozen yogurt is exactly how I pictured it. The lemon syrup infused in the lemon buttermilk base gives it a bit of tartness that I expected. Swirls of lemon curd add bursts of tartness and a nice textural contrast. And the crisp chunks of shortbread crusts really tie it all together to make the frozen yogurt taste like a fresh lemon tart.

N, I hope that I was able to successfully able to recreate this frozen yogurt for you and your husband. Even if I didn't, it still tasted pretty dang good.

Lemon buttermilk tart frozen yogurt
Frozen yogurt base
  • 1 quart plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • Zest of 1 lemon (use a knife to make large pieces of zest so you can strain it easily)
Lemon curd
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 Tablespoon corn starch
  • Slightly under 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Slightly under 1/2 cup of lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Lemon syrup
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
Shortbread
  • 1/4 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup confectioner’s sugar
Directions
Do ahead: Add two layers of cheesecloth on top of a fine mesh sieve. Place the sieve over a large bowl and cover. Strain the yogurt over the bowl up to 8 hours or overnight.

Reserve 1 and 1/4 cups of the strained yogurt, add the buttermilk and set aside.

Make the lemon curd (make ahead): In a medium saucepan, mix together the egg yolks and corn starch until completely smooth. Add the sugar, zest and juice until everything is well blended. Turn the stove on medium-high heat. Constantly stir until the mixer simmers (about 7-10 minutes). Let it keep simmering for about 45 seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the butter one cube at a time. Whisk until smooth. Chill the curd in the refrigerator until cool, about 2 hours, until ready to use.

Make the lemon syrup:  In a small saucepan, squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Add the sugar and boil on medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool and set aside.


Make the yogurt base:  In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set this aside.

In a large bowl, break apart the cream cheese and mix it until it is smooth. Set a fine mesh sieve above it and set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat the cream, remaining milk, sugar, corn syrup and lemon zest on medium to medium-high heat until boiling. Allow the mixture to boil for 4 minutes.

Take the saucepan off the stove and very carefully add the cornstarch/milk slurry. Mix until everything is well incorporated and put the pan back on the stove. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil and until the liquid becomes slightly thicker, about 1 minute.

Turn off the stove and pour the liquid through the sieve into the large bowl with the cream cheese. Strain out the lemon zest and discard. Add the buttermilk mixture and lemon syrup and mix well until everything is fully incorporated.

At this point, you have two options. You can either set the frozen yogurt base over an ice bath (pour the contents into a large zip-top bag, seal it shut and place it over a large bowl with ice cubes), or put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Once the mixture is completely cool, churn it in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions.

Make the shortbread: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until a soft dough forms. Add more flour if needed. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden. Allow the crust to cool.

Assemble the frozen yogurt: Alternate layering the frozen yogurt base, lemon curd and shortbread pieces in a freezer-safe container. Freeze until hardened, at least 4 hour or overnight.

Sources: Inspired by N; Frozen yogurt base adapted from The Post and Courier; lemon syrup from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home; lemon curd from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts; shortbread from Add a Pinch

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